Bitcoin (BTC) saw mining rates hit a record of over 55 million TH/s, later retreating but still standing high at 52 million TH/s. The climb to peak rates follows a dip in mining, which took away around 20% of hashing power, albeit temporarily.
The hashrate for the Bitcoin network has been growing regardless of the sliding price, which fell once again toward the $6,300 level. Some of the reasons include new shipments of the Antminer rigs, which are now more efficient and have a higher hashrate. The curious thing is that despite the impressive hashrate increases, the energy use of Bitcoin has leveled out, as seen on the specialized index.
The rush to mine Bitcoin also underlines the fact that it is hard to find quality coins to mine. Mining for altcoins has declined, including Scrypt mining for Litecoin, which has lost 30% of its hashing power in the past three months.
Mining for leading altcoins such as Monero (XMR), Dash (DASH), and ZCash (ZEC) has remained relatively flat and at only a fraction of the rate for Bitcoin. Only Ethereum (ETH) mining has seen a steady climb over the past months, data from Bitinfo charts shows.
The robust Bitcoin mining keeps pushing the difficulty to new peaks, with a further hike expected after the next recalculation in about ten days. The latest increase was 14.88%. The reports of record mining activity coincide with fresh doubts over the real utility of BTC and the chances of the digital asset to survive. Should mining dwindle at this high difficulty rate, the Bitcoin network may go through a period of slow blocks.
At the same time, BTC transactions have fallen to around 172,000 in 24 hours. There are some 1,400 pending transactions, which indicates a relatively low usage of the network. Most BTC is still either hoarded or used for trading.
Some see the trend in the hashrate as a fundamental Bitcoin measure, which may indicate a revival in prices. But it must be remembered that miners usually chase immediate gains, so a stagnant price above break-even point is enough for the mining business to continue.
At this hashrate, cloud mining may become non-viable again. For individual miners, the rewards also decline with the high difficulty, resulting in a lower share of the block reward. Older mining farms with less efficient rigs or higher electricity costs may become unprofitable. Some see the statistics as indicating hidden mining, while others interpret them as a sign of faith in the revival of BTC market prices.
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